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THE PYRAMID                             55
Caviglia did not limit his work to the Great Pyramid alone. He made discoveries in the Second and Third Pyramids, explored burial vaults in the region between them and the Sphinx, and unearthed some interesting sarcophagi and smaller relics of ancient Egypt.
About the time that a beautiful young woman unexpectedly found herself crowned as Victoria, Queen of England, destiny sent to Egypt a gallant British officer, a perfect English gentleman, and a wealthy patron of the British Museum, triply combined in the courtly person of Colonel Howard Vyse. He employed hundreds of labourers upon the most extensive series of excavations that all three Pyramids and the surrounding region had witnessed for a thousand years, i.e. since the time of Caliph Al Mamoun. He secured the services of Caviglia for a time, but the temperaments of the highly strung Italian and the thoroughly conventional Englishman dashed: they soon parted.
Colonel Vyse gave 10,000 of his money freely for these Egyptian excavations, while he presented their tangible results to the British Museum. Boxes of interesting relics crossed the seas, but his most interesting discovery remained behind. He had found four rooms high up in the Great Pyramid and immediately above Davison's Chamber, though not without some difficulty and much danger; his workmen risked a thirty-foot fall much of the time, as they excavated a small passage upwards through the solid masonry. These rooms were as low, as confined in space, as the first one. And they, too, were empty, if dusty.
With their discovery and after a study of the gabled ceiling of sloping limestone beams over the topmost chamber, the purpose of the whole series of five low rooms became clear. They had been constructed to relieve the ceiling of the King's Chamber of the overwhelming pressure which thousands of tons of solid masonry overhead necessarily forced upon it; they acted as a cushioning device. Not only that, but they safeguarded the King's Chamber from the precipitation of this masonry upon its floor in the unlikely but possible event of an earthquake splitting the body of the Pyramid. They would then act as an admirable arrangement of buffers to take the shock of subsidence after the earthquake, thus preventing the King's Chamber from being crushed in by the enormous mass of stone overhead. The passage of thousands of years over